Nagaur district in Rajasthan, which is around 200 kms from the state capital of Jaipur, was the epicentre of Rajput protests last year as the district had flared up over the alleged fake encounter of Anandpal Singh, a history-sheeter with several cases of murder, dacoity and kidnapping against him.
Rajput community members had alleged that Anandpal Singh was killed in a fake encounter despite his willingness to surrender.
This election year, members of the Ravana Rajput community, of which Anandpal Singh was a part of, and the Rajput community have come together in their fight against the Vasundhara Raje-led Government in Rajasthan with the sole purpose of defeating the BJP in the upcoming Assembly elections.
In Nagaur’s Ladnun, where Anandpal hails from, anger against the BJP has surged over time.
“We are together in our fight against the BJP. Whether it is the Ravana Rajputs or the Rajputs, we are working together towards defeating the BJP in the upcoming elections in Rajasthan,” a member of the Ravana Rajput community told India Today.
“We have realised the BJP has been working against the Rajput community. There have been several issues including the encounter of Anandpal Singh, the Chatur Singh encounter and the Padmaavat issue which has led to bad blood between the BJP and Rajputs. We have realised that kamal ka phool is hamari bhool,” another Ravana Rajput member said.
Nagaur district has a total of 10 assembly seats out of which Rajputs are considered to hold sway over at least seven seats. Family members of Anandpal Singh, including his mother and daughter, have been travelling to different parts to rally against the BJP in a bid to oust the party from power. They have been raising the Anandpal Singh encounter and other issues regarding the community.
“Thirty six communities in Rajasthan are working together to defeat the BJP. My father was killed in a fake encounter. There have been several issues over which these different communities in Rajasthan have been working to defeat the BJP. The response was good where ever we went to hold rallies and campaign against the BJP,” Anandpal Singh’s daughter Yogita said.
“My son was killed in a fake encounter. I have been protesting, fighting, campaigning against the BJP to ensure justice. We have made ‘Kamal ka phool hamari bhool’ a part of our campaign,” Nirmal Kanwar, Anandpal Singh’s mother, told India Today.
Even as the encounter of Anandpal Singh remains the rallying point for the protesting members of the Rajput community, it is not the only issue over which the BJP has been targeted by Rajputs and Ravana Rajputs.
Rajputs, considered an influential section in Rajasthan, comprise around 8 to 10 per cent of the state’s population. Anger within the community seems to have spread across the state over the latter half of Vasundhara Raje’s tenure.
Several of its members, who claimed to be BJP loyalists, have accused the party and Vasundhara Raje in particular of rubbing the community the wrong way.
Apart from the Anandpal Singh encounter, the community has been at loggerheads with the BJP over the manner in which the BJP state president was handpicked by denying the opportunity to a Rajput.
Apart from this, the community felt insulted when Jaswant Singh Jasol, a former BJP stalwart, was denied a ticket from Jaisalmer Barmer constituency for the last Lok Sabha elections, allegedly at the behest of Vasundhara Raje.
“There is no infighting within the BJP. The Rajputs are together and supporting the party. Earlier, there were some people who had filed their nomination but some of them have already withdrawn it,” Raghuraj Singh, BJP candidate from Ladnun, said.
The BJP has been trying to prevent the prevailing mood in the Rajput community from boiling over in the poll-bound state. In a bid to quell the anger within the Rajput community, the party has given tickets to 28 Rajput candidates, substantially more than the 13 tickets given to Rajput candidates by the Congress for the upcoming elections in the state.
However, whether the ruling party will be able to tide over the wave of seething anger prevailing within the community is something only results can tell.